This summer, I had the opportunity to work at the Mourkioti Lab under the mentorship of Sienna Pyle and Dr. Foteini Mourkioti. The Mourkioti Lab studies skeletal muscle and cardiac function in diseased and injured conditions using engineered mice models to discover better approaches to treatment intervention. My project focused on the cardiac muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes, and the role of an essential protein TRF2 in maintaining their normal function during heart development. In order to investigate the morphological changes in developing heart, isolated embryonic mice hearts were sectioned and stained to be imaged under the microscope. H&E, KI67, and TUNEL staining techniques were used to examine the ventricle wall thickness, cell proliferation, and cell death, respectively. My job was mainly imaging and analyzing stained heart sections on a cell analysis software called ImageJ.
This research experience provided me new insights into medical research. It was fascinating to witness the relevance of academic concepts such as heart anatomy and blood circulation, cell division, and stages of cell death in approaching real-world problems like cardiomyopathy. I was also able to gain more confidence in genotyping, mice weaning and intraperitoneal (IP) injections, and microscope imaging independently. One of the most valuable assets I gained through this experience is how to effectively communicate research to the audience. I learned that a constant sharing of new discoveries and ideas through publications allows the field of research to advance rapidly. Creating a poster that encapsulates my project has taught me how to create figures and captions that are easy to interpret, as well as how to apply the results of the study back to a real-world problem to appeal to a greater interest. PURM was truly an invaluable experience for me, and I look forward to continuing my research journey at the Mourkioti Lab in the upcoming semesters.
To see my poster, visit Penn Presents: https://presentations.curf.upenn.edu/poster/characterizing-role-trf2-mai...